Neogene - Quaternary slow coastal uplift of Western Europe through the perspective of sequences of strandlines from the Cotentin Peninsula (Normandy, France)

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Kevin Pedoja, Julius Jara-Muñoz, Gino de Gelder , Jenni Robertson, Marco Meschis, David Fernández-Blanco , Maëlle NEXER, Yohann Poprawski, Dugue Olivier, Bernard Delcaillau


The Cotentin Peninsula (Normandy, France) displays sequences of marine terraces and rasas, the latter being wide Late Cenozoic coastal erosion surfaces, that are typical of Western European coasts in Portugal, Spain, France and southern England. Remote sensing imagery and field mapping enabled reappraisal of the Cotentin coastal sequences. From bottom to top, the N Cotentin sequence includes four previously recognized Pleistocene marine terraces (T1 to T4) at elevations < 40 m as well as four higher and older rasas (R1 to R4) reaching 200 ± 5 m in elevation. Low-standing marine terraces are not observed in the central part of the Peninsula and a limited number of terraces are described to the south. The high-standing rasas are widespread all over the peninsula. Such strandline distributions reveal major changes during the Late Cenozoic. Progressive uplift of an irregular sea-floor led to subaerial exposure of bathymetric highs that were carved into rocky platforms, rasas and marine terraces. Eventually, five main islands coalesced and connected to the mainland to the south to form the Cotentin Peninsula. On the basis of previous dating of the last interglacial maximum terrace (i.e. Marine Isotopic Stage, MIS 5e), sequential morphostratigraphy and modelling, we have reappraised uplift rates and derived: (i) mean Upper Pleistocene (i.e. since MIS 5e ~ 44 122 +/- 6 ka, i.e. kilo annum) apparent uplift rates of 0.04 ± 0.01 mm/yr, (ii) mean Middle Pleistocene eustasy corrected uplift rates of 0.09 ± 0.03 mm/yr, and (iii) low mean Pleistocene uplift rates of 0.01 mm/yr. Extrapolations of these slow rates combined with geological evidence implies that the formation of the sequences from the Cotentin Peninsula occurred between 3 Ma (Pliocene) and 15 Ma (Miocene), which cannot be narrowed down further without additional research. Along the coasts of Western Europe, sequences of marine terraces and rasas are widespread (169 preserve the MIS 5e benchmark). In Spain, Portugal, S England and other parts of western France, the sequences morphostratigraphy is very similar to that of Cotentin. The onset of such Western European sequences occurred during the Miocene (e.g. Spain) or Pliocene (e.g. Portugal). We interpret this Neogene - Quaternary coastal uplift as a symptom of the increasing lithospheric compression that accompanies Cenozoic orogenies.



Earth Sciences, Geomorphology, Physical Sciences and Mathematics


Marine terrace, Cotentin and western 23 Europe, Neogene and Quaternary coastal uplift, rasa


Published: 2017-12-06 16:36


Academic Free License (AFL) 3.0

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